Fourth Israeli Arab Jailed Without Charges Since Temple Mount Killings

Latest is from Umm al-Fahm, hometown of gunmen who killed two policemen at Temple Mount last month

Israeli police officers patrol on the Temple Mount, Jerusalem, July 27, 2017.
Mahmoud Illean/AP

The Haifa District Court on Monday held a hearing on an administrative detention (imprisonment without charges) order issued against a man from Umm al-Fahm, the fourth Arab man from the Wadi Ara area to be subjected to such an order since the killing of two policemen on the Temple Mount last month by three Umm al-Fahm gunmen.

Attorney Omar Khamaisi of the Al-Mezan legal center told Haaretz that the latest detainee is 22; he was arrested on July 30 and transferred to the Shin Bet security service for questioning. The four-month administrative detention order was signed Sunday by acting Defense Minister Yuval Steinitz.

During Monday’s hearing, the court was shown intelligence materials indicating the suspect posed a danger. A decision on whether to approve the order will probably come during a hearing next week, after the court has a chance to review the intelligence information.

Last week Haaretz reported on three other Wadi Ara residents who are being held without charges. Those orders, signed by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, were for six months; the court shortened one of them to two months but there was no commitment from the state not to extend it further.

The Al-Mezan center said it had received information about a fifth man being held in administrative detention – a resident of the Nazareth area who is an educator but whose family isn’t interested in going to the media with his situation. Earlier this year Haaretz reported on the administrative detention of Mohammed Ibrahim of the Western Galilee village of Kabul, who was held for 11 months before being released in April. That was the longest period an Israeli Arab had been held in administrative detention and he was released only because the Haifa District Court said he could no longer be held unless charges were filed against him.

The arrest of the young man from Umm al-Fahm raises concerns that this is the start of a trend against Israeli Arabs, owing to the fact that last month’s attack near the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount was carried out by three men from Umm al-Fahm. Security officials deny that there’s a trend or that any new policy is being implemented, stressing that each case is judged on its merits.

But the Monitoring Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel believes it is a trend. Committee chairman Mohammed Barakeh told Haaretz that Israel was returning to the days when many Arab citizens lived under a military government, and that the security establishment was trying to test the Arab population by imposing draconian measures like administrative detentions. “Unfortunately the legal system gives backing to the whims of Lieberman and [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, because if there was even a trace of guilt they would be bringing the suspects to trial and filing indictments against them.”

Barakeh said there would soon be a rally in the village of Arara to protest the administrative detentions, and that the monitoring committee is organizing a protest vigil to be held at Defense Ministry headquarters. It is also contacting international institutions and organizations to call attention to this policy against Arab citizens.